Last First Snow

June 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, )

snowLast First Snow by Max Gladstone

—–

I tore through the first half of Last First Snow, which isn’t something I could say about Full Fathom Five. I’m not sure why, save for the fact that there wasn’t as much world-building to deal with before getting to the heart of the story. This book revisits locations and characters already shown in the Craft Sequence, so it moves straight in to the characters and their conflicts. Curiously, one of the criticism I see of the book from other reviews is that it had a slow open. Go figure.

Last First Snow returns to Dresediel Lex, the setting for Two Serpents Rise, and even focuses on two of the central characters from that book — Temoc and the King in Red. Elayne Kevarian from Three Parts Dead also makes an appearance, as she’s trying to broker a peace between Temoc and the King. See, it’s been forty years since the end of the God Wars, where these two faced each other in battle; now that they’ve ended, they’re trying to find a way to live peaceably with each other. The book wouldn’t be interesting if it were an easy process, though, would it?

I have mixed feelings over how Gladstone approached the book. On the one hand, we already know Temoc from an earlier book, set later in the timeline, so we know what’s going to happen with his family; on the other hand, knowing future events creates some nice tension in the story, as we’re waiting to see when it happens; on yet another hand, though, knowing that it’s coming, we have to be convinced that what happens is for a good reason. Me, I’m not certain I’m convinced.

*spoiler*

Temoc nearly kills his son in order to imbue him with the power of his gods, before abandoning his family to go back to fight with his people. One of the central conflicts of the story is loyalty to family over loyalty to the group (Temoc being the leader of his people), so I get that he struggles with it, but it seemed too harsh for him to weigh his son’s life in that same struggle.

*end spoiler*

It’s hard to determine who the protagonists and antagonists are in this story, because while Temoc appears to be the protagonist, he does some terrible things to achieve his goals. By the same token, the King in Red is set up to be the antagonist, if for no other reason than he sees people as expendable, and relishes in death and destruction, but for at least half the book, you’ll find yourself rooting for him. Maybe the point of the book is that one can’t draw those lines too easily, that heroes and villains are not so clearly cut.

I powered through the end of the book, namely so I could move on to the next one and be done with the series. There’s a lot to like in the books, but reading them together like I did didn’t work for me. They got boring to me after a while, and I feel like I’m missing something that they’re not resonating with me like they do with other readers. To each their own, I guess.

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